Somewhere Between Heaven & Hell.
It's been a tumultuous start for us in 2020. We got kicked out of a venue for the first time, we almost lost control and crashed during a black ice storm outside of Amarillo, and Scott even sprained his ankle. That's among the worry of the side of our camper bubbling up through the high winds of West Texas and the bloody noses from the high elevation of the Colorado Rockies.
We aren't ones to victim blame, but we suspect it's actually our fault.
Five years ago on this Valentine's Day, we were freezing in our Nashville home during that infamous-to-us ice storm under a lousy landlord. We've been scattered and tattered ever since, trying to keep body and soul together, as Scott's Grandma says. But even a big adventure can turn rote with enough time and camper repairs. Starting this year, among the mending and the intentionality, we also vowed to fall in love again-- with each other, with what we do, and with the road.
Falling in love means taking chances. It means being risky with your heart, and occasionally your route. It means saying yes when you're afraid and want to say no, and it means having eyes wide open with little cartoon hearts inside of them for everyone to see and for them to make mocking grade school noises like "awwwwww, you have a girlfriend!"
Falling in love is in the wide open, for everyone to see how doped up you are, how carelessly you keep walking into traffic because your head is in the clouds. Or, in our case, how we keeping walking into clouds because our head is in the road. But it requires work. It requires changing things up. Which in our case meant saying yes to touring with another duo for the first time. Which meant routing to northern Colorado in the middle of winter. Which meant taking the side road 30 miles off course to stay the night in a New Mexico State Park, only to wake up in the morning under five inches of snow, and little hope of getting out in the morning.
And it's been glorious. Because for all the fear and extra propane, we really are falling in love with the road again. We are learning that it's not the purgatory we'd been allowing it to be. Just like anything else, it's the pretty little adventure teetering precariously between heaven and hell. Maybe it's just in how you look at it.
On one of our side trips, we stopped at the Pecos National Historical Park just outside of Santa Fe. On a self guided trail, we learned about the Pecos people, their way of life, and the way in which Christian settlers destroyed it, constructing big churches on top of what had been a communal, flourishing, peaceful way of life.
In the center of each pueblo was a kiva-- an underground structure used for spiritual practices. To the back, a small hole is dug to acknowledge death and what is below. To the front, a place for fire and ceremony at the heart of the round cove, the smoke leading up and into the ground level-- representing the spirits and heavens above.
As we crawled inside, our eyes adjusting, it was easy to feel both completely safe and uneasy. Like being in a womb, but knowing you are about to be spit out again. The cusp of the next, the intention of the now. It's like holding the entire scope of a life in one Earth cubby. It was like falling in love with the whole world at once.
As we continued the trail, we found one more kiva-- squarely in the middle of the Christian church courtyard. Under the looming brick church nose of their oppressors, the Pecos maintained their heart. Wide open in love, teetering between Heaven and Hell.
Sometimes being in love means digging in.
At the end of this month, on February 29th, we will be celebrating both our first and fourth anniversary. We've found ourselves always in between-- between being a band or being friends, being friends or being in love, being the right time for the wrong people and the wrong time for the right people. So we solidified it on that slippery Leap Year Day, to keep our marriage young and packed with years at once.
Before this, back when I was married to someone else and Scott was just that guy who came over to write songs and be my best friend, I morosely moved through a difficult and ill-fated marriage. When I told Scott one night that I was hoping for marriage counseling, in spite of my husband refusing, Scott said--
"Why do you need marriage counseling? Why don't you just, I don't know, read love poems or something?"
After our bigger fights, I often will make fun of Scott for this. Being in love is harder work than a couple of love poems. But, also, it's not. Which is why we've spent more time this year reading poetry aloud, listening to love songs, and staring into wide desert expanses holding hands. And also fighting like wild dogs. Being in love with the person you know you were meant for, it seems, is also balancing somewhere between heaven and hell.
So, here we are-- stepping foot into Spring, with a few bruises and a creaking axle. I suspect this little space we've carved out for ourselves will be worth the clenched jaws as we tow our camper out of narrow dirt roads and fight our way back to a few love poems and a Southwest sunset.